ENGL 147N Assignment Pro-Con Position Paper Draft – Instructor Review
ENGL 147N Assignment Pro-Con Position Paper Draft – Instructor Review
Fear-Based Advertising Could Lead Public to Choose Better Health Decision
An advertisement presents more than just pictures, information and tag lines. It serves as the media to convey a message, especially for health campaign advertising. Each element of health advertising; the model, the message and the setting should be designed carefully, as it is expected to lead the public to change their lifestyle. The trick used to build and aim for highest effectiveness of the advertisement content is called message framing. Generally, there are two ways of message framing; loss-framing and gain-framing (Wansink & Pope, 2014). The first framing technique focuses on the loss that the person will get if they keep doing the action. On the other hand, gain-framing emphasize the positive result for the person if the person does the action. Both framing mechanisms could provide negative and positive impact depending on how the message is delivered. For health purpose advertisement, the most commonly used technique is gain-framing. It could be seen in anti-smoking or weight loss advertisement which encourages people to change their lifestyle for better physical condition. Lately, the combination of loss-framing and fear arousal is also used to lead public behaviour changes. They are claimed to have a better effect and show significant difference while compared to the regular advertisement (Simpson, 2017). While the opposition to fear-based advertisements present many validate points, overall, the best stance is using it to lead the public to choose better health decision.
When people see an advertisement, they should be attracted to the content before they stop and digest the information. Zhang, a student of the School of Management in Jinan University reports the importance of emotional bonding in advertisement by using real life condition as the reference for the model and the message. Zhang mentions: the level of emotion is possible to influence consumers’ advertising attitude. First of all, it is necessary to ensure enough emotional strength so that the advertisement has the opportunity to attract consumers’ attention and emotional resonance (2020, p.14). The first sign of good health campaign is attracting the target audience. Before people decide to follow the suggestion, they need to relate to the message being conveyed by the advertisement. If the advertisement portrays a condition which the people cannot imagine or never see before, the chance of behaviour change is low. The message should touch deep into a certain emotional level and delivered to the public without adhering from its original content.
The opponent of fear-based advertisement argues that the negative emotion implied from loss-gain framing does not lead people to change their behaviour. Aysen Akyuz, the Association Professor of Department of Public Relations and Advertising in Istanbul Medipol University, Turkey, conducts a survey on the use of fear-based advertising in the anti-smoking campaign among Turkish Youth. The result of his study shows that the campaign does not make smokers plan to quit smoking. He notes: Although they are aware of the health risks associated for cigarette use, they don’t like to be reminded about them. Thus, fear appeal advertisements are not effective to stimulate quit behaviour among cigarette users (2017, p.2447). To prove the effectiveness of fear-based advertising to change people’s behaviour, take an example from the most commonly found health campaign about smoking. They often link cigarette-smoking with the health deterioration effects for the smokers. However, it doesn’t encourage smokers to quit the habit; in fact, they keep smoking and ignore the campaign.
While designing a health campaign, there are two kinds of fears that could be induced to the message; high-level and low-level threat. It is also important to measure how the people could handle the consequences, either they are manageable or too difficult to handle. Each of them will trigger the public to take several different kinds of action. Carey, student of Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London and Sarma, the student of School of Psychology, The National University of Ireland reports how the misused level of threat could make people do the opposite action than the intended goal. Their study is about applying fear-based advertisement with high threat and preventable consequences and fear-based advertisement with high threat and irreversible consequences to the population study. The result shows that advertisement with preventable consequences are more likely to make people acting as suggested in the campaign. On the other hand, the advertisement with irreversible effects will be more likely to be ignored. The level of threat and consequences used in the content plays important role to encourage behavioural change. The sample provided in the opponent’s argument emphasizes that health deterioration must be happening, thus they respond by ignoring the suggestion.
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Another argument provided by the opponents of fear-based advertising points the designer of the fear-based advertisement, which is not aligning the message to the target’s point of view. Wansik and Cornell from School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University reports that gain-framed message does a better job in approaching the audience of a health campaign. Wansik and Cornell notes: Since most audiences do not have the highly specific and detailed health knowledge that the message producers possess, they are less susceptible to fear-based, loss-framed messaging than the producers (2014, p.10). Generally, the fear-based health campaign is often paired to loss-framed message. Thus, the message implies that the audience will lose something if they ignore the recommended action. It didn’t do well because the designers are health experts who ignore the public’s behaviour towards the issue. Since they are not actively involved in the topic, the fear-based advertisement will bring less effect to the audience.
To reach the intended goal, the fear-based advertisement could be arranged properly by each element; the model, the setting and the message. Krishen, a student of Marketing & International Business, Lee Business School, University of Nevada and Bui, a student of the Department of Marketing, Loyola Marymount University conducted a pilot project of health campaign by showing an overweight boy ordering indulgent food with a side dish and measured the effect of this campaign to the audiences. They note: The results depict that through this goal activation theory base, properly designed projective advertisements can channel individuals to make better future health decisions (2015, p.9). Creating a balanced health campaign is the key to convey the message to the public. The sample takes a sample of an overweight child who could be found in daily occurrence. It also chooses the setting in a junk food chain where the boy ordered indulgent food. These situations are familiar to the target audience, thus leaving a bigger impression and lead them to choose a better lifestyle.
The use of advertisement as a media to encourage people to do prevention or take a decision for a better life is essential. When the advertisement is designed carefully to touch emotional area, this advertisement could make public re-think about continuing poor health decisions such as overeating, consuming indulgent food and smoking. This statement is questionable as the smoking campaign cannot make smokers quit smoking. It is probably the result of the high risk and consequences that cannot be avoided by the target audience. The fear-based advertisement could not reach the target well because it is designed by the health experts, which learn deeper about the topic compared to the public in general. In the end, the fear-based advertisement combined with a realistic setting and message proves that it can do better in leading the public towards a better lifestyle.
Akyuz, A. (2017). The Use of Fear Appeal for Anti-Smoking Advertising Campaigns: A Survey on Turkish Youth. International Journal Of Social Science And Economic Research, 02(02), 2434-2449. Retrieved from https://ijsser.org/uploads/ijsser_02__151.pdf
Wansink, B., & Pope, L. (2014). When do gain-framed health messages work better than fear appeals?. Nutrition Reviews, 73(1), 4-11. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuu010
Carey, R., & Sarma, K. (2016). Threat appeals in health communication: messages that elicit fear and enhance perceived efficacy positively impact on young male drivers. BMC Public Health, 16(1). doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3227-2
Krishen, A., & Bui, M. (2015). Fear advertisements: influencing consumers to make better health decisions. International Journal Of Advertising, 34(3), 533-548. doi: 10.1080/02650487.2014.996278
Simpson, J. (2017). Appeal to fear in health care: appropriate or inappropriate?. Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, 25(1). doi: 10.1186/s12998-017-0157-8
Zheng, M. (2020). When and Why Negative Emotional Appeals Work in Advertising: A Review of Research. Open Journal Of Social Sciences, 08(03), 7-16. doi: 10.4236/jss.2020.83002